Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
Can Parents Control Their Children?
What right did Chanah have to so rigidly determine her son’s destiny?
How Positivity Affects Our Goals
While there are exceptions to the rule, when motivation to change stems merely from wanting to avoid a bad outcome, rather than obtaining a good result, the change is usually temporary.
Wedding Speeches for Nasso
The Sotah Ritual
The sotah ritual concerned a wife whose husband suspected her of adultery and would have her drink special “bitter” water in the Holy Temple complex.
Do You Confess…?
Confession, as of contrition and repentance, is not always sincere. But even the most insincere confession retains a special power to put one on the right track.
Does Every Day Matter?
If G‑d created Sunday, and then Monday, and then Tuesday, they must be different from one another.
Of Angels and Porters
An Essay on Parshat Naso
They suffer because they want to grow, but they are unable to realize this or put their lofty aspirations into practice.
Torah Insights
Journey Toward Peace
The Torah describes three laws: the “wayward woman,” the nazirite and the priestly blessing.
Transporting the Temple
Weekly Sermonette
G-d Bless You!
Only G‑d knows what we truly need in our lives at any given time.
What to Do with a Stale Mate
“Nothing new under the sun,” wrote King Solomon in Ecclesiastes. And so, we discover this week that infidelity and other marital problems aren’t exactly a new societal phenomenon . . .
Self-Made Man?
Sure, we can erect a structure. That's the easy part. The question is: will G-d see fit to live there?
Nazirites and Nunneries
One Talmudic opinion suggests that because the nazirite denies himself the pleasure of drinking wine, he is considered “sinful.” But why should it be wrong to deny oneself anything?
For Friday Night
Making the Desert Bloom
It is interesting to think that for thousands of years we have been reading again and again the account of this journey in the wilderness...
Can 20th century people understand the concept of 'prophecy'? As described in the last verse of this week's Torah reading, it seems like a kind of spiritual technology...
Divine Response
Whether as a kohen blessing the congregation, or any person studying Torah, or indeed carrying out any mitzvah, G‑d responds, at every moment of life...
Individual and Community
Each day the Prince of one of the Tribes brought a magnificent gift to G‑d. But for each Prince although the gift was exactly the same, the symbolic meaning was different...
Life's Passages
Have You Heard of the Term “Mansplaining”?
Let’s stop mansplaining, womansplaining, or peoplesplaining, and start seeing the inherent worth in all of G‑d’s creations.
Tasting Life's Bitter Waters
You are married, or intensely committed, to a vision, a goal, a dream. Then along comes life . . .
A Thought for the Week
The Great Voice
Why was G‑d’s voice confined to the Sanctuary?
Reflections on the Parshah
G-d's Favorites
In commenting on one of the blessings in the Priestly Benediction, the Talmud reveals an important aspect of the Jew's attitude to Judaism.
What the Rebbe Taught Me
The Id and the Yid
A trainable cat, a prince who thinks he’s a rooster, and a rebbe who digs up dirt.
Is Confession a Jewish Thing?
On the importance and function of Jewish confession.
What Do You Think?
The Antidote to Stupidity
Sin is foolish. We all know it. No one ever feels good after a sin, and no one feels bad after doing a mitzvah. But we sin anyway. Then we feel guilty, then we sin again . . .
Living through the Parshah
Are You a Jew in the Head?
Jews have distinct rituals: a way of dress, interesting holidays, and a unique diet. When G-d gave us these instructions He told us that He was choosing us as His special nation. But beneath those rituals, are we truly distinct? As Jews, do we think differently?
Parshah Blog
The Ordeal of the "Bitter Waters"
Some skeptic we have here! You don't question the ability of water mixed with dried ink and a harmless bitter herb to cause someone's body to explode. This you apparently consider a natural outcome of drinking this mixture...
The Freeman Files
Infinity in Disguise
Perhaps it’s one of those forbidden questions. Perhaps it just breaks too many assumptions. But we’ll ask it anyway: Have the properties of light changed over the centuries? Has the power of gravity weakened with time? Has matter become less material? When you turn it over a few times and rub it between your fingers, everything in our world turns out to contain something of the infinite . . .
Parshah Musings
From Good To Great
It’s easier and more comfortable to just skate by on natural talent and future promise. Near enough becomes good enough.
Time Well Spent
Many dot-com entrepreneurs are already onto their third or fourth start-up, and most Noble Prize-winning physicists and mathematicians have completed their best work by then. But the Levites actualy began their career at age 30
Money Hungry?
In fairness, no institution can be expected to survive on well-wishes alone. I don’t question people's and institutions' right to support, only the chutzpah of collecting "for G-d" and directing it to another cause...
Living Life to the Fullest
It's not as if the princes were struggling financially; they could have easily doubled their donation. Surely one could expect a higher standard of magnanimity from the princes of Israel!
Blessing the Blessers
The chazzan reaches the moment, the Kohanim turn around, lower their prayer shawls over their eyes, raise their hands towards the crowd and the Priestly Blessing begins. What an amazing religion we have where certain people have been specifically assigned the job of blessing the masses with sanctity and love:
The Two Handed Salute
Inner Stream
The Choices We Make
If I set two plates before you, one filed with cookies, the other with a million dollars, which one would you choose?
The Priestly Blessing
The kohanim remove their shoes and extend their hands, fingers parted and palms stretched outwards; the congregation hide their faces under their prayer shawls. What is the deeper significance of this celestial ritual?
The Recovering Addict
When we become addicted to a particular indulgence, we must wean ourselves from the addiction by abstaining completely until we have recovered.
Climbing to G-d
The priestly blessing empowers us to make a three-step climb.
Weekly Torah
Individual Talents
Hearing Voices
Much as we might want it to be otherwise, G‑d’s voice cannot resound everywhere and at all times.
The Levites
Ethics 2:2
Heaven or earth? The kollel or the kibbutz? We Jews have been debating the issue for as long as we have been a people
The Jealous Lover
Commandments Two and Seven: Ultimately, you will be no more and no less faithful to your spouse than you are to your G-d -- and vice versa
Do Jews Believe in Sin?
To the fire-and-brimstone types, the word smells of shame and scorched flesh. To the hedonist it sounds like fun. Some think it's a wholly Christian concept while others ascribe it to the ancient Hebrews. To the sages of the Talmud, it is, above all, an act of profound stupidity
Short Stop
Both parents offered the same advice, with the same degree of sincerity. But as the years went by, there was a change: the first child heard exhaustion in their voices, while the second child heard restraint
Parshah Recovery
Reacting to Another's Downfall
It seems that the Sages knew quite a bit about us alcoholics. Who has been as ready to find fault in others as we have been? Who has been as indignant toward the shortcomings of others?
Covenant & Conversation
Lifting Heads
Make those you meet feel important, especially the people whom others tend to take for granted.
The Blessing of Love
To bless, we must love, and to be blessed is to know that we are loved by the One vaster than the universe.
Two Versions of the Moral Life
The parsha of Naso contains the laws relating to the nazirite – an individual who undertook, usually for a limited period of time, to observe special rules of holiness and abstinence: not to drink wine (including anything made from grapes), not to have his hair cut and not to defile himself by contact with the dead.
Sages and Saints
Maimonides on Abstinence
The Politics of Envy
Few things in the Torah are more revolutionary than its conception of leadership
More Parshah Articles
Nachshon ben Aminadav: The Man Who Jumped Into the Sea
When everyone else hesitated, he jumped into the swirling sea.
Beyond Speech
We Are the Wayward Wife
On Shavuot, we received the Ten Commandments—the marriage between G‑d and His people. Like the “jealous husband,” He warned us: “Don’t have other gods before Me.”
Everyone Is Special
Though we are doing the same actions, the mitzvahs are as unique as the individuals performing them. No one can do your mitzvah.
On the Haftarah: The Birth of a Superhero
For the haftarah of Naso, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
What could possibly be the connection between Shimshon and Shmuel being nazirs, and the Talmudic debate and teaching that follow?
Making the Desert Into a Home
We should know that it is never too late to begin, and if we make the effort, there is no level we can’t reach.
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